The Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival Turns 17
The SLGFF features more than a hundred films by, for, and about LGBT folk and those who love them, screening all over town from October 11 through 21 (info and schedule at www.threedollarbillcinema.org). Here are mini-reviews of five of the films.
There's a lot to like in this high-school dramedy about a cynical small-town boy driven by ambition to blackmail, written by and starring Glee's Chris Colfer. As the burnt-out mother of Colfer's character, Allison Janney gives a performance that, had it happened in a better film, might've earned her an Oscar nomination. Christina Hendricks, Rebel Wilson, and Angela from The Office are also perfectly great. But they're lost in a mess of sitcom quips, cardboard characters, and 1,001 failures of style, wit, and imagination. (Smart viewers will get drunk before, after, and perhaps during this opening-night gala screening.)
Winner of the Teddy Award for best documentary at the Berlin International Film Festival, Call Me Kuchu tracks the state of gay life in Uganda—a country where newspapers feature gay men's faces next to the headline "Hang Them! They Are After Our Kids!" where lesbian women are subjected to "curative rape" by relatives, and where the legislature is pushing for laws that would make homosexuality punishable by death. From this swamp of fatal hatred, Kuchu draws a humane story that is crushingly upsetting but laced with proof that the international community will no longer tolerate this shit. This is the must-see film of SLGFF 2012.
Cheryl Dunye's latest is a pomo queer spin on a pornworthy plot: In contemporary Berlin, a butch dyke (the gorgeous Papi Coxxx) struggles to stay sexually connected to her fierce femme girlfriend. On the side, she slaps on a mustache and takes to fucking a new woman—who just happens to be her girlfriend's mother. Over the course of a sprightly hour, doors are farcically slammed, ideas of taboo desire are discussed, and multiple vaginas are fisted. (The many love scenes in the film are X-rated—and amazing.)
"Asking me if I'm homosexual is like asking James Brown if he's black." So crowed the American glam-rocker Jobriath as he commenced his career in the early '70s. Entering a milieu rich with androgynous stars with heterosexual habits, Jobriath proclaimed himself the "true fairy of rock," making it clear that, unlike David Bowie or Marc Bolan, he was a tarted-up rocker who actually took it up the ass. Backing up the faggy hubris was Jobriath's musical talent (he was a classical piano prodigy) and his shameless manager, who unleashed an avalanche of hype—from Times Square billboards to full-page ads in Rolling Stone and Vogue, all before one note of music had been released—that would ultimately prove ruinous. Documentarian Kieran Turner tracks this incredible tale through archival interviews, contemporary interviews, gracefully plot-forwarding animation, and awesome performance footage. No fan of glam rock, musical theater, or pioneering gay artists should miss this.
In a cruel twist, the lamest film to be found at SLGFF 2012 will be shown before every single screening. Cheesy/campy promo trailers are a longstanding SLGFF tradition, but this year's offering—involving a gay-centric version of charades—does the opposite of what advertising should do. Why would a film festival promote itself with a winceworthy film? Certainly there are at least a half-dozen queer cinema artists in Seattle who could create something smarter and sharper in their sleep than this year's senseless cliché parade.